Lemon Tree Flowers

If life gives you lemons, they say you should make lemonade. If life gives a lemon tree flowers, then it will make fruit. It’s a simple relationship, but sometimes the lemon tree flowers don’t quite play the game. Looking after your lemon tree properly will encourage the flowers to form and the fruit to be produced.

Lemon Tree Flowers

Lemon Tree Flowers

The flowers on a fruit tree are an important part of its reproductive cycle, because they are where the fruit is produced. A lemon tree has flowers with both male and female parts, so it is self-pollinating. 

Sometimes, though, the flowers will drop because of a lack of water or nutrients and the tree will not produce fruit.

The flowers of the lemon tree 

The flowers of the lemon tree 

Just like any other citrus tree, lemon trees have flowers. They are small, white flowers, with five outer petals and an inner tube.

The five outside petals are long, narrow and pointed and flare out like an open star. 

The cup in the middle is shorter than the petals, but is wider than the petals are.

In the middle of the tube are the pistil and stamens. The tips of these are yellow, which gives the flowers a yellow heart.

Parts of the lemon flower

Parts of the lemon flower

Lemon trees, including Meyer lemons, are self-pollinating, which means the trees have both male and female parts. They do not produce separate male and female flowers, but male and female parts of the same flowers.  

The female part of the flower is called the pistil. It is a single, relatively thick ‘stick’,that has a greenish base and a yellow crown. 

The stamens are thin ‘sticks’ that are slightly taller than the pistil. They have yellow, elongated tops.

Lemon Tree Pollination

Lemon Tree Pollination

Pollination occurs when the pollen from the stamens is brushed onto the top of the pistil and the plant is fertilized, which will produce fruit.

This usually occurs when bees visit the plants. The pollen rubs off onto their legs and then is rubbed off onto the pistil. This fertilizes the flower and fruit will be formed.

This means that each flower should become the site of a new lemon.

Lemon tree flowers but no fruit

Lemon tree flowers but no fruit

If your lemon tree produces flowers, but does not fruit, it could have been affected by the environment, or there is no pollination, or it may simply not be old enough.

Insufficient pollination

Perhaps the obvious reason for your lemon tree producing flowers, but no fruit is that it is not being pollinated, as this is the process that leads to reproduction. There may be factors in the environment or area you live in that have resulted in a decrease of bees, which means the tree may not be pollinated naturally.

In cases where your tree is over 5 years and should have access to bees, but still does not produce, you can pollinate it by hand. 

This is also an option if your tree is inside and you know that it is unlikely to be visited by bees.

Manual pollination means taking a small paintbrush and gently rubbing it across the stamens and pistil of the flowers to rub the pollen onto the pistil, which will help with reproduction.

See our full article on lime tree care.


The age of a lemon tree is a factor in whether the tree will flower. It may simply not be old enough to reproduce.

Lemon trees should only bear when they are about five years old. 

This is why you will be in for the long haul if you decide to grow your own lemon tree.

It is also the reason that it is advisable to buy a tree that is already a few years old if you want to grow your own lemons.

Environmental conditions

Lemon trees are quite sensitive to the environment in which they live and this can be one of the factors you will need to consider when your tree does not produce fruit, although it does flower.

Unlike many other plants, citrus trees produce their fruit in winter. 

This may surprise you to learn that they actually prefer warmer weather, which is found in subtropical areas. 

If the tree is in a position, or location, where it will get too hot, it may not produce fruit. 

Similarly, if it gets too cold, it will not bear fruit. Added to this is the factor that lemon trees need a certain period of relatively colder weather and even less water to produce fruit.

Check out our full article on how to plant a lemon tree.

Lemon tree flowers fall off before fruit is produced

Lemons are the fruit of the lemon tree and are produced when the flower is pollinated and the fruit is ‘born’. This means that the flowers cannot fall off before the fruits are produced.

Without flowers, a plant cannot produce fruit. 

This means that the flowers of a lemon tree will not fall off naturally before the fruit is produced. 

Some smaller, older flowers may drop, but it will be a very low percentage.

See how cold lemon trees can tolerate.

Removing lemon tree flowers

Removing lemon tree flowers

It is not necessary to remove any of the flowers from your mature lemon tree, unless they seem to be dying off. If you do remove any flowers, it will affect the crop of lemons from the tree.

Flowers lead to lemons, so you should not pick any of the flowers off your lemon tree. 

However, if the tree is younger than 5 years, you can remove the flowers, so that the growing energy goes into establishing the roots and stems of the plant.

Lemon drops flowers

Lemon drops flowers

Lemon trees need a period of dormancy to produce flowers and then fruit, but too little water for too long may result in the flowers falling off early. Sudden environmental changes can also cause the flowers to fall off.

If the flowers fall off your lemon tree, it means no fruit will be produced, so it is something you should try to avoid. 

The flowers falling off may be the result of too little water, which means you must make sure your tree is watered regularly.

It may also be linked to sudden environmental changes. You won’t be able to do anything about this, but you can try to mitigate the effects. 

Keep an eye on the weather. If the temperatures are set to drop dramatically, or the weather will be unusually hot, you should either move the tree, if you can or protect it in some way from the weather and to make sure its conditions stay as even as possible.

Meyer lemon trees losing their leaves

Meyer lemon trees losing their leaves

Although Meyer lemon trees are hardier than other varieties, they are also sensitive to the conditions in their environment and the flowers may fall off.

Meyer lemon trees can withstand drought and hotter temperatures better than most varieties of lemon, but they will also lose their flowers if they go without sufficient water for an extended period.

Lemon tree is not producing flowers

Lemon tree is not producing flowers

A lemon tree needs enough light, water and nutrients to be able to live, grow and reproduce. If it is not getting the correct amount of water and nutrients, then it will not flower, which means it cannot produce fruit.

Water is the source of life for everything, including lemon trees. 

It is also the main way that the tree receives nutrients. 

Not enough water means insufficient nutrients, which means that what energy it has for growing goes into keeping it alive and not into reproduction and it won’t be able to produce flowers.

Lemon Tree Flowers


Lemon tree flowers are the key to the tree producing fruit and reproducing effectively. If the flowers fall off prematurely, there cannot be a good crop of fruit. 

Take good care of your lemon tree. 

Make sure it gets enough water and protect it from extreme cold and your tree should produce and keep its flowers, which will become fruit.

About the author

Greg Volente

Greg Volente holds a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, worked for The Nature Conservancy leading environmental education programs and doing natural areas restoration, and worked in the soil science research & testing lab at Michigan State University. Besides gardening, he's an avid wildflower enthusiast, and loves botanizing, hiking, and backpacking.